We scouted the 10 best and worst Acura RDX years to put in your garage!

We scouted the 10 best and worst Acura RDX years to put in your garage! 

If an Acura makes you willing to become anybody’s chauffeur instead of enjoying its mounds of plush leather at the back, then you got yourself an RDX that can show European status symbols what’s up. 

Now while that may sound like a nice criterion to judge whether a certain year of the Honda CR-V’s flamboyant cousin is any good, there’s more to the best (and worst) Acura RDX than a bit of wheel and pedal action.

Rather, we went through all the ups and downs of this crossover throughout the years to see which of them are even worth spending extra on to turn the “H” logo into an “A” on your front grille.

What are the best and worst years of the Acura RDX?

The best years of the Acura RDX are 2009, 2012, 2018, and 2023, while its worst years are 2007, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2019, and 2020.

The best and worst Acura RDX model years are based on consumer and expert ratings, reliability reviews, notable features, and number of complaints.

The Acura RDX presents itself as an attractively priced compact crossover in luxurious clothing, making it worthy of attention even in the secondhand market.

Albeit not the usual pick against European models like the Audi Q5 (worst best audi q5 years), having three generations and 17 model years and counting to boot is telling of the RDX’s mark in the segment.

However, only some model years are up to the task of giving you what you paid for, so we sought out which ones you can trust and which ones we’d rather forget ever existed.

Based on our findings, the best Acura RDX models are from 2009, 2012, 2018, and 2023, while the worst ones you should avoid are from 2007, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2019, and 2020.

Now with the list set, let’s move on to the different reasons why these years give off green flags or red flags so you can make a safe purchase!

What are the best model years of the Acura RDX?

The best Acura RDX model years include 2009, 2012, 2018, and 2023 owing to a good balance of higher consumer/expert ratings on average, better reliability reviews, and fewer complaints regarding any known problems.

2023 Acura RDX (TC1/2)

2023 Acura RDX (TC12)

If you value getting the latest-gen Acura RDX that showcases peak luxury for the compact crossover nameplate, then the 2023 model will give you that while also having promising reliability so far.

While only being out for a year and still highly subject to changes in its data, the 2023 Acura RDX barely received any complaints and sports good ratings of 4.6/5 from KBB experts and 4/5 from Edmunds consumers.

It scored slightly lower on Car and Driver (6.5/10) and J.D. Power (78/100), although these scores are still congruent with those received by other 3rd-gen model years.

As with earlier years, the 2023 model is powered by a single 272-horsepower 2-liter turbo I4 engine option. Despite having a lack of powertrain options compared to rivals, this 4-cylinder motor is plenty responsive and feels at home beneath the RDX’s hood.

The interior, on the other hand, is more generous with standard features such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, LED lighting, up to 59 cubic feet of cargo space, and AcuraWatch driver assist features.

Tons of packages were also exclusively offered for the 2023 model on its release, including a 2-year complimentary maintenance service and a 3-year AcuraLink subscription for free.

2018 Acura RDX (TB3/4) 

2018 Acura RDX (TB34)

Now, if you’re looking for a cheaper yet relatively recent RDX model backed up by great reliability reviews and minimal reported issues, the 2018 model year is the way to go.

High scores of 4.5/5 on KBB, 4.3/5 on Edmunds, and 80/100 on J.D. Power make it a pretty consistent performer in the market, albeit Car and Driver still give it an “average” score of 6/10.

The 2nd-gen 2018 Acura RDX demonstrates very solid reliability when comparing its few complaints to the hundreds posted for the earlier model years of the 3rd generation.

With its more refined build quality also comes a great-performing V6 engine, optional AWD (all-wheel drive), and an earlier but still well-equipped collection of AcuraWatch safety features.

This model year is also known for its great handling response and superb braking performance for an SUV of its size, which is equally balanced by its well-padded seat cushions, good cabin noise insulation, and finely tuned suspension for comfort.

2012 Acura RDX (TB1/2)

2012 Acura RDX (TB12)

The 1st-gen Acura RDX also has a couple of model years worth checking out for their long-term reliability and great value for money, such as the last 2012 model year.

A rating of 3.5/5 from KBB experts is a bit on the average side compared to newer years. Despite this, consumers are quick to defend the 2012 RDX with higher scores of 4.4/5 on Edmunds and 80/100 on J.D. Power.

Although any 1st-gen model from 2010 to 2012 would be a safe buy reliability-wise and all of the features have been carried over until the last year anyway, looking for a low-mileage and similarly priced 2012 model will be the ideal combo to aim for.

Some notable carried-over features include a facelifted grille, a base 2WD (2-wheel drive) trim, a rearview backup camera, Bluetooth compatibility, a USB port, and standard HID headlamps.

Sportier handling, a firmer ride, and a torquey turbocharged 2.3-liter “K23A1” 4-cylinder motor are to be expected in the 2012 Acura RDX, though these don’t make for a particularly harsh experience, but rather just emphasizing the “Sport” in SUV more.

2009 Acura RDX (TB1/2)

Opting for an older 2009 Acura RDX would still be a banger of a purchase since it’s one of the best (and most reliable) models of the early 1st-gen RDX.

Other than a couple of reports regarding its Takata airbags, the 2009 model is largely unaffected by any major issues that threaten its long-term reliability.

Respectable consumer ratings of 4.4/5 on Edmunds and 77/100 on J.D. Power further add trustworthiness to this model year’s reputation, with many owners particularly fond of its fun and engaging driving dynamics.

This kind of experience is thanks to its quick and agile handling, zippy 2.3-liter I4 turbo motor, and SH-AWD (Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive) system that comes standard for any RDX made before 2010.

Despite being a pre-facelift model year, the 2009 RDX is already fitted with an extended AcuraLink real-time traffic system, a premium 7-speaker sound system, BlueTooth “HandsFreeLink”, 4-way adjustable front seats, and more.

Safety is also a big thing for this model year as evident in its 5-star ratings for both frontal and side-impact crash tests. However, it does lag behind newer RDX generations in cargo space.

What are the worst model years of the Acura RDX?

The worst Acura RDX model years include 2007, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2019, and 2020. While some years received high consumer/expert ratings, they still garnered the most reliability complaints.

Recalls, safety ratings, and technical service bulletins are also considered to find the worst Acura RDX years.

2019/2020 Acura RDX (TC1/2)

20192020 Acura RDX (TC12)

The 2019 and 2020 Acura RDX models were back-to-back years when the compact crossover exhibited the most number of reliability problems, making them the worst years for the 3rd-gen model.

Consumer and expert ratings are a mixed bag for these two years, with the 2019 model garnering scores of 4.6/5 (KBB), 3.3/5 (Edmunds), 7/10 (Car and Driver), and 73/100 (J.D. Power). 

Those for the 2020 model were slightly better at 4.6/5, 4/5, 6.5/10, and 76/100, respectively. While these can be considered fairly high, it still racked up 233 complaints on CarProblemZoo, whereas the 2019 model was even worse off at 337 complaints.

During these years, the majority of reported problems involved the SUV’s engine, which can suddenly lose power due to “limp mode” turning on and also trigger the check engine light (CEL).

Such issues have put many drivers in dangerous situations on the highway wherein the vehicle slowed down abruptly to around 20 mph or less while other vehicles are nearby.

Moreover, another top concern was the rear windshield glass shattering for no reason, which can commonly occur even while parked. Acura’s TSB states that incorrect specs for the rear defroster are a possible culprit.

2015 Acura RDX (TB3/4) 

2015 Acura RDX (TB34)

The 2nd-gen Acura RDX had several model years worth avoiding due to a high rate of complaints, with the 2015 model being the worst of the lot.

While different problems have been reported all throughout the vehicle, nothing comes close to the 233 NHTSA reports complaining about the prematurely dimming headlights on the car.

The average failure mileage for the bulbs is around 9,123 miles, according to CarComplaints, which resulted in hundreds of owners being left in hazardous situations with little to no visibility during the night or low-visibility conditions.

Several complaints regarding the infamous exploding Takata airbags (recall) have also been posted for this model year, and while nowhere as frequent as the headlight issue, it’s still a very possible malfunction in important safety equipment.

Even with decent ratings of 3.8/5 on KBB, 4.3/5 on Edmunds, and 77/100 on J.D. Power, the presence of such safety risks makes this far from the best and safest trade offer.

2013/2014 Acura RDX (TB3/4) 

The 2013 and 2014 Acura RDX models initially started the trend of dimming headlights and exploding airbag problems that eventually led to the problematic 2015 model, and for that, we do not recommend buying them either.

Ratings for these years aren’t particularly terrible since both of them received at least 3.8/5 on KBB, 4.1/5 on Edmunds, and 79/100 on J.D. Power.

But with them receiving 209 complaints (2014) and 138 complaints (2013) on CarProblemZoo, it’s still a real reason for concern if you’re in search of only the most reliable years of the RDX.

There are also several suspension and ride-related complaints mixed in, most particularly with clunking noises, bad struts, rougher ride quality around town, and noticeable vibrations uncharacteristic of a luxury crossover.

2007 Acura RDX (TB1/2)

2007 Acura RDX (TB12)

A simple rule of thumb when buying any 1st-gen Acura RDX is to just skip the first model year, the 2007 model with its slightly higher number of complaints.

Sure, it’s not as bad as the other “worst” years in this list, but as far as 1st-gen models are concerned, you will see better reliability and tech from its slightly newer counterparts.

If you still decide to go for a 2007 model for its cheaper average price or any other reason, keep in mind that it has also been part of a series of recalls with its rupturing Takata airbags; not to mention it also gets a couple of electrical and brake issues now and then.

You also don’t get Bluetooth connectivity, power driver seat memory positioning, a 4-way power passenger seat, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror, things that only became standard for the 2008 and 2009 model years.

Acura RDX Best and Worst Years Per Generation

Generation/Model YearsBest YearsWorst Years
1st Generation (TB1/2) (2007 to 2012)2009 20122007
2nd Generation (TB3/4) (2013 to 2018)
2013 2014 2015
3rd Generation (TC1/2) (2019 to 2024/Present)20232019 2020

Consumer/Expert Ratings for All Acura RDX Years

Acura RDXModel YearKBB Expert Rating Edmunds Consumer Rating Car and Driver RatingJ.D. Power Consumer Rating

What are the common problems of an Acura RDX?

What are the common problems of an Acura RDX

Common problems of the Acura RDX include turbo problems, sudden accelerations or decelerations (limp mode), a jerking or shuddering transmission, and engine stalling.

The Acura RDX is also known to develop brake issues, dimming headlights, faulty airbags, and other electrical issues.

Turbo Problems

The turbocharger has been a common failure point for the early model years of the Acura RDX, resulting in a reduction in power and a struggle to get the car to accelerate properly.

Turbo issues on the 1st-gen Acura RDX are also typically known to trigger the check engine light (CEL), which may initially be associated with an engine issue.

However, such issues are commonly traced to the failure of the turbo actuator. Not only does its breakage cause you to lose boost pressure and performance, but it can also affect your overall fuel economy.

If the rest of the turbo is still intact, then it can still be remedied by replacing only the actuator with one taken out of a spare turbo. Otherwise, an entire turbo replacement costs around $3,500 on average for parts and labor.

Powertrain Problems (Engine/Transmission)

Powertrain problems on the Acura RDX can manifest in different ways since they mainly involve the engine and transmission.

Many owners of 2019 and 2020 RDX models commonly complain of them suddenly decelerating on their own, which is actually the “limp mode” randomly kicking in (TSB). At times, the opposite can also happen wherein the car suddenly accelerates by itself.

On the transmission side of things, instances of jerking and shuddering during shifts have also been reported in 1st-gen models and some 2nd-gen models.

Then there are the engine stalling cases in the early 3rd-gen RDX years, which were not nearly as common as the limp mode issue but still presented dangerous situations while driving in traffic.

Brake Problems

Brake-related issues are another common problem found in the 2019 and 2020 Acura RDX, with one of the usual symptoms being the brakes making a squeaking noise.

Aside from the annoying brake squeak, owners have also reported that their “brake hold” feature suddenly disengages and lets the car roll or, in other cases, causes it to dangerously lurch forward.

It turns out that this issue happens whenever the “Auto Start-Stop” feature starts the engine again at a full stop, which also disengages the brake hold before the driver can realize it.

Electrical Problems

Different electrical problems are known to develop in the Acura RDX, but its most prevalent one is, without a doubt, the prematurely dimming headlights.

The halogen bulbs on certain 2013 to 2015 models often prematurely dim or even fail at less than 10,000 miles, and it can be quite hazardous to drive with these faulty bulbs at night, in a fog, or during a storm.

These same model years and earlier 1st-gen models were also mildly affected by the widely known Takata airbag issue that can cause the inflators to rupture on deployment.

Certain 2019 RDX models also came with malfunctioning infotainment system software, resulting in an influx of faults with their GPS, radio, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, and HandsFreeLink calling system.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the most reliable Acura RDX model year?

Some of the most reliable Acura RDX model years include 2009, 2012, and 2018. All 3 model years have the fewest reported reliability problems in their respective generations and also scored a 4/5 in reliability by RepairPal.

What is the most common problem with the Acura RDX?

The most commonly reported problem with the Acura RDX is prematurely dimming headlights in the 2013, 2014, and 2015 model years.

Other common Acura RDX problems include sudden decelerations due to limp mode, turbo actuator failure, brake hold malfunction, squeaky brakes jerky transmission shifts, engine stalling, and rupturing Takata airbags.

How many miles can an Acura RDX last?

The Acura RDX can last for about 200,000 to 300,000 miles (322,000 to 483,000 km) with proper maintenance.

However, the exact mileage can also depend on other factors such as the model year, driving habits, road and climate conditions, and even the quality of products used for maintenance.

Is the Acura RDX expensive to maintain?

According to RepairPal’s estimates, the Acura RDX has an annual maintenance cost of $497, similar to the $428 average for Hondas yet $155 cheaper than the $652 average for all vehicle models.